Monday, January 22, 2018

Jaleel Johnson

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Vikings ended a disappointing 2016 season by finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs. Just one year later, the team is eyeing their first Super Bowl appearance since 1976.

Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman was named the 2017 NFL Executive of the Year by Pro Football Weekly. An 18-person panel selected the 55 year-old as the recipient of the honor.

“Slick Rick,” or “Trader Rick” as he’s commonly referred to, has built a reputation of accumulating draft picks, selecting impact players throughout all seven rounds and engineering multiple draft day trades. More recently, however, it’s Spielman’s ability to transform a roster that has him receiving recognition.

The 2017 offseason may have been some of Spielman’s best work as the Vikings general manager. Let’s take a closer look at how he used due diligence and refined offseason strategies to revamp the Vikings roster and put Minnesota back on the map.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

2017 Minnesota Vikings Pro Football Focus grades.

Before we get started I would like to make some things clear about PFF grades.

Pro Football Focus (PFF) has been grading NFL players since 2004. The football analytics site evaluates individual performances on a play-by-play basis. On every play of every game, a PFF analyst will grade each player on a scale of -2 to +2 according to what he did on the play.

From the Pro Football Focus website:

pff player grades

The grading method was designed to build a clearer picture of how players performed, rather than simply judging performances based on box-score stats. Stats can be misleading.

While most statistical analysis is quantitative in nature, PFF uses qualitative measures and opinion-based grading as the basis of their rankings, so like baseball umpires, their calls could be construed by critics as “biased.” However, the grading process is overseen by at least three individuals per contest, so while the numbers may not always be perfect, the process itself is rather reliable.

What’s also unique about PFF is that season-level grades also account for the duration of good and bad play, resulting in “compounded” grades (both positive and negative) if the player’s performance continues for long periods of time. Basically, the grades factor in “streaky” play. Kinda cool, right?

Anyways…I hope that helped. It’s better to know these things beforehand because some grades may surprise you.

So without further adieu, here are the 2017 season grades for each qualified Viking. The players are arranged by grade within their position group. Notable position rankings are listed in parentheses.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

A look at the stat book reveals how the Vikings defense has stacked up after eight games.

In 2013 the Minnesota Vikings defense ranked 31st in the NFL. They gave up 397.6 yards per game. They also allowed 30.0 points per game.

That all changed in 2014 when the team acquired one of the best defensive-minded coaches in the NFL, head coach Mike Zimmer. Under Zimmer, the Vikings defense has gone from bottom of the barrel to a perennial top-5 squad.

Through Week 9, here are the notable team and individual defensive statistics.